Mark Blasini


Avoiding the optimization fate


In the network economy, things change so fast. It's almost a physical rule that once a new, exciting technology reaches its prime, it's doomed for failure. Nothing can stay at the top for long.

For example, there was a time when Microsoft was the king, the model for the new age: no one could hope to take down this giant. And then Google came along.

In the network economy, being the best is actually a huge vulnerability. Once you're optimized for success, resting yourself on a peak, you're left isolated, unable to adapt to the inevitable change that is coming.

There are two ways to avoid this fate, then. The first way is to avoid optimizing and focus on innovating. This is Google's strategy. Google's products certainly are not the best - there are much better word processors, spreadsheets, calendars, email systems, etc.

But neither do they need to be. The more varied products a person has access to on their drive, the more valuable that drive becomes. You have docs, sheets, slides, mail, calendar, chat, contacts, meet, YouTube, photos, forms, etc. Anything you can need in terms of transmitting or receiving information is all there, all connected.

Google has successfully created aplatformthat allows it to keep innovating, that is, to keep in the game.

The second way to avoid the optimization fate is to create a standard that can be improved upon, but cannot easily be replaced. Think USB. USB is the standard now for powering devices and transferring data.

Of course, it has been improved upon (1.0, 1.1, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1), but because of its simplicity (all devices can use it, from phones to tablets to mouse and keyboard to Bluetooth speakers), it is very hard to replace it. No one wants to think about what cable they need; the possibility of just one cable, one port, makes life so much easier.

So there you go: innovation or simplicity. Avoid trying to be the best, and instead aim either to be the first, or the easiest.